Sunday, November 06, 2011

Fish Report 11/6/11

Fish Report 11/6/11
Thanksgiving Week
Both Kinds of Fishing
Regulatory Season Opens
New Trips: Saturday, Nov 19 & Thanksgiving Week the 23rd, 25th & 26th -- 6 to 4 -- $125.00 - Long Sea Bass  
Also Regular Tog -- Monday, 21st & Nov 27 & 28th -- 14 Sells Out -- 7 to 3 -- $100.00
Have Room --lots of room-- for Long Sea Bass Trips on the 9th & 10th, the 15th & 19th plus the Thanksgiving Dates..
Friday, 11/11/11 & Sunday, 11/13 - 7 to 3 - Cbass - $100.00 -- Plenty of Spots..
Reservations Required: 410 520 2076
Leaving Some Dates Open For A Deep Trip If Weather Allows........
Please arrive 1/2 hour before scheduled departure with food, water, beverage & a medium-sized cooler w/ice for fish. Bait is provided but you're welcome to bring your own. We often -almost always- leave early. Show up late and you'll see the west end of an east bound boat.
Hi All,
Managed to clear the inlet Thursday. A hard ebb tide and considerably more remnant swell than I'd given credit for made that a dangerous task.
I've seen worse.
But not a lot worse.
Twenty yards north of the inlet entrance buoys the ocean was well-behaved. Only rough where swell & current met, we enjoyed a nice day.
Did not enjoy a nice bite.
For whatever reason, cbass weren't taking bait very well nor a spoon at all.
High man was in the low-teens. This time of year that's a slow day.
Friday, however, looked a lot more like November. Double-headers as soon as we came tight on anchor. When it slowed to some singles I adjusted anchor; back to doubles.
Not a gift: Weather forecast had a big wind coming mid-day.
Forecast was right too.
Not a breath of air as we set off in blaze-orange sunrise. Between 10 & 11 AM the ocean became a different place.
Headed in early with a nice catch, I see a sailboat--a small sailboat--10 miles off the beach. Hailed on radio & close approach to wave it down; Unanswered, she  pressed on, her 30-some feet already already weathering green-water seas at the transom.
At 10 AM there was a moderate breeze with leftover ground-swells. At 10 PM waves were ten feet every 7 seconds..
I wonder if they made it.
Looking forward to a calmer spell of weather. Pretty sure I've got some good fishing to tend to.
Charlie Hutchinson's vision of renewed menhaden populations is coming onto the regulatory battlefield in epic fashion. ASMFC takes up menhaden at its Boston meeting this week. 
Has to be something to it if MSSA, CCA, RFA, TNC, CBF --even Pew & Ocean Conservancy for Pete's sake-- many others too; All agree action is needed.
Anytime Jim Donafrio of the Recreational Fishing Alliance & Lee Crockett, Pew's Fisheries Policy Director, agree on anything, regulators ought to pay very close attention--Millenarians too.
CCA is asking for a cut in striped bass harvest (& bravo) because fishers see populations of large fish shrinking. This isn't an overfishing problem per-se but likely instead that mycobacteriosis, myco, is killing fish. Linked to mal-nutrition, the disease is increasing 'natural mortality' beyond anticipated levels.
Many feel there's a strong tie between menhaden abundance and striper health, that a well-fed striper population suffers less disease: That habitat, here in the form of forage species, is important.
Summer flounder were the subject of a major announcement this week too. Developing -- the gist of it is because the lion's share of fisheries research funding is being spent in New England, Mid-Atlantic management has been blindsided by a very poor fluke population assessment; That the stock --once declared fully rebuilt-- has slipped back into 'overfished' status.
Pretty safe bet that when the Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Council issues a press release castigating National Marine Fisheries for lax science: Trouble looms.
We all know how overfishing is addressed. . .
Tog are going on the regulatory chopping block too. Its possible that sea bass will as well.
MRFSS data for tautog really does have a couple private boat guys that go in March & April from Ocean City, MD catching thousands of tog in 2010 -- far more than all the party boats on the coast combined.
Not making this up: March/April MD private boat estimate has them catching 50,226 tog, keeping 18,572. Meanwhile, all "For-Hire" boats in all of the Mid-Atlantic are estimated to have caught 13,952 tog and kept 4,380 of them..
I fish a lot in March & April. I almost never see another boat. When I do its a party boat.
Its one of the worst MRFSS recreational catch estimates ever. 
Yet helps establish "Overfishing" has occurred..
Nowhere is management pondering where these temperate reef fish are living, that between southern NJ & the VA/NC border almost every tautog lives on man-made reef ..except for the last few remaining marine rockpiles, the habitat too robust to have been destroyed by stern-towed gear in the last 60 years.
Any natural-reef populations of tautog --the populations of fish that should be the target of fishery restoration-- would have lived on long-lost but well documented oyster beds and in undocumented whip meadows off the coast.
They were not lost in targeted fishing. These populations were long gone before there was a market for the species; These natural-reef tog populations are missing due to natural habitat's decline: We ate the oysters...  
Post WWII landings of sea bass (with those war-surplus diesels put into new trawlers; And these were sea bass caught and sold by the pound)  ..the commercial landings from the 1950s are greater than all decades since added together.
How much natural hard-bottom reef was required to support such an unimaginable population? Where is management's reef restoration plan?

Essential Fish Habitat is not in consideration..
At All.
Ludicrous catch-estimates upset commerce on reefs we've built --where tautog are doing wonderfully-- while obvious ecological considerations haven't even entered management's conversation.
As evidenced by hungry striped bass's susceptibility to mycobacteriosis; weakfish's inability to live beyond age two; and tautog/sea bass 'rebuilding plans' with not one thought of reef: I think NOAA's attempts to reproduce past fish populations often run into ecological stopping points.
The pointless shaving or adding weeks of fishing season while increasing/decreasing size & creel limits; What we fight so hard for in economic reason really hasn't much impact on fish.
It only distracts from the primary task.
Real fishery restoration will result from real habitat restoration.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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